UGACR aims to become the first sustainable campus in Costa Rica. Our sustainability strategy has been to identify the negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts caused by the operation in order to develop mitigation initiatives. We recognize that complete sustainability is impossible, but with small changes in the way the campus is designed and operated, the ecological footprint can be reduced significantly – without compromising the quality of the services offered.
Enhancement of Infrastructure
UGACR has invested resources in order to strategically enhance its sustainability. For example, a 200 m3 biodigester serves as a waste water treatment facility that transforms waste into methane. This methane is used as cooking fuel in the campus cafeteria, reducing significantly the amount of propane that is consumed to cook meals. Likewise, solar water heaters have been installed across the residential facilities in order to reduce the amount of electricity and propane used. More than 800 incandescent lights have been substituted with LED lights in order to extend the useful life of the devices, reduce waste, and increase energy efficiency.
Costa Ricans emit an average of 1.5 metric tons of CO2 per capita per year. US citizens emit nearly 25 times more CO2 than Costa Ricans. UGACR students release an average of 1 ton of CO2 during in the course of their programs in Costa Rica. In order to be consistent with our principles, in 2008 UGACR launched an internal carbon offset program. Since then, more than 35,000 trees have been planted in the Bellbird Biological Corridor (see below). These trees not only sequester CO2, but also help restore the integrity of the landscape and the livelihood of the corridor’s inhabitants by providing important ecosystem services to the local and global society, such as water and biodiversity conservation.
UGACR is embedded in the community of San Luis de Monteverde and has developed strategic partnerships with the San Luis Development Association. Many of the activities and programs that students and visitors participate in are offered by local leaders and entrepreneurs, who add to the richness and authenticity of these educational experiences.
Bellbird Biological Corridor
UGACR serves as a founding member of the Bellbird Biological Corridor.
The corridor is comprised of 664 km2 of land, of which more than 50% has been deforested. The landscape is fragmented and the biological and human communities in the area are suffering the effects of deforestation: soil erosion, water deficit, and loss of biodiversity. The Bellbird Biological Corridor aims to restore the forest connectivity between the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Puntarenas Mangrove Forest as a proxy for the restoration of the biological integrity and economic enhancement of the local communities.
Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary
UGACR Campus has received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP), an international program administered by Audubon International designed to help landowners preserve and enhance the environmental quality of their property. By joining and participating in the ACSP, the University of Georgia Costa Rica campus will be involved in projects that enhance habitat for wildlife and preserve natural resources for the benefit of the local community.